Donnacha Ryan and Cian Healy return for Italian job

The two forwards are the only changes made to the team

BY Daniel Kelly 13:10 Thursday 9 February 2017, 13:10 9 Feb 2017

Donnacha Ryan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Joe Schmidt has named his Ireland team to play Italy this weekend in Rome, following last week's loss to Scotland in Edinburgh.

Donnacha Ryan missed Saturday's game with Scotland due to a knee injury, but travelled with the squad to Edinburgh. He replaces Iain Henderson in the starting 15. Cian Healy also takes his place in the team, in place of Jack McGrath.

Rory Best captains the side, from the front row. He is joined either side by Leinster props Healy and Tadhg Furlong. In the second row, Ryan has been joined by Devin Toner.

CJ Stander starts at blindside flanker. He partners the Leinster duo of Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip for the second week in a row.

In the backs, Paddy Jackson continues at fly-half in place of the injured Johnny Sexton. The Ulster fly-half is joined in the half-backs by Conor Murray.

Rob Henshaw and Garry Ringrose start together in the centre. The Leinster duo will look to continue the promising form, shown when they played together last week for the first time at international level. The pair have played with each other on only nine occasions at provincial level.

In the back three, Rob Kearney starts at full back, with Munster's Simon Zebo and Keith Earls on either wing.

On the bench, hooker Niall Scannell could also make his debut from the bench, after failing to feature last weekend against Scotland. Craig Gilroy takes the no. 23 jersey in place of Tommy Bowe. The Monaghan winger has returned to the Ulster squad.

Ireland team and replacements to face Italy

(15-9): Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Rob Henshaw, Simon Zebo, Paddy Jackson, Conor Murray.

(1-8): Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements (16-23): Niall Scannell, Jack McGrath, John Ryan, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Ian Keatley, Craig Gilroy.

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